There was a time when the word “gym class” conjured up images of brightly-colored Lycra and worryingly-orange instructors encouraging you to move your frame to some dodgy music. Thankfully, times have changed. A new class from high-end gym chain Third Space aims to set a new standard in group training.
The new classes are called The WOD (Workout Of the Day) and follow a metabolic conditioning format where you do strength work at high intensity to challenge your muscles, your mind and your cardio fitness.
“What I like most about the new WOD class is the intensity,” says Third Space lead trainer Luke Barnsley. “The whole room feeds off it. Other than that, it’s the variety that appeals to me—every workout is different. It never gets boring and you never know how it’s going to go. Some days The WOD seems impossible but you get it done faster than you thought. Some days you’re not so lucky and the WOD descends into a physical and emotional battle, but all while making you the best version of you possible.”
Of course, there’s more to a good workout than just making someone sweaty. “The key ingredients of a good workout are intelligible session design, strong coaching on each exercise and an atmosphere of healthy competition,” says Barnsley. “The partner work unites people in a common goal, while the AMRAP section lends itself to seeing personal development.”
Each class starts with a short mobility section, followed by a period in which you gradually increase your heart rate. The meat of the session involves training protocols such as AMRAPs and EMOMs, and there are mini-competitions that pit you against a workout partner before the session ends with a warm-down. If that sounds appealing, give the mini-workouts created by Barnsley a go, then sign yourself up for a class. For more information visit thirdspace.london
Each WOD session includes an AMRAP section, which stands for As Many Rounds As Possible. The challenge is easy to understand—do as much as you can in the allotted time—but less easy to do.
“An AMRAP workout is very efficient, and forces you to get a great deal done in a short amount of time. It’s also a great way to ratchet up the intensity of your strength training,” says Barnsley.
“Normally resistance work is accompanied by long rest periods and planned periods of inactivity between sets. An AMRAP removes this. It’s your mission to get as many rounds as possible in the given time. With that feeling of being against the clock, the intensity of the workout naturally rises. You constantly ask more from your body and most of the time you get it. In that extreme environment, your body has no choice but to get fitter and stronger.”
Here’s an example of the kind of AMRAP you might do during a class. Do as many rounds of the following in eight minutes:
“Complete this a few times a week and you will notice all sorts of gains,” says Barnsley. “You’ll see improved upper-body and lower-body strength, increased tolerance to higher work loads, stronger grip and more stable core.
“You will also have trained your mind to complete an arduous task with a sense of purpose. This last one is often the missing piece of the puzzle when people embark on a new exercise regime. Mental toughness in the face of a daunting task is something that can be learned, and AMRAPs will help you with that.”
Extra EMOM Workout
Another popular element of WOD sessions is the EMOM, which stands for Every Minute On the Minute. As the name suggests, you do a set amount of work at the start of each minute—so the faster you complete it, the longer you have to rest.
“A great EMOM generally leaves you with 15 seconds’ rest at the end of each minute,” says Barnsley. “But what’s great about EMOMs is that they reward you for working at higher intensities. Work harder and you’ll finish sooner and have more rest before the next minute begins. Before you know it you are working at a much higher intensity than you thought possible, because you know if you do, you’ll get more rest.
“EMOMs are also great for gauging performance improvement over time. Do an EMOM until failure, a point where you can’t go on or where you can’t finish the requisite number of reps within the minute. Make a note of the number of rounds achieved. Then in four to six weeks, conduct a retest. Chances are, your improvement will be significant and you’ll last for more rounds.”
Here’s a sample EMOM to get you started:
- Dumbbell man-maker 6 reps
- Chest to floor burpee 12 reps
Do the man-makers at the start of a minute, rest, then do the burpees at the start of the next minute. Alternate for a total of eight minutes.
To do the man-makers, drop down into the top of a press-up position while holding the dumbbells. Row one dumbbell up to your side, then the other. Then jump your feet forwards, stand up and “clean” the dumbbells up so they are at shoulder height in a quarter squat. Finally push press them overhead, and go straight into the next rep.
“This is great because it fuses strength and conditioning,” says Barnsley. “The man-maker’s a brutal whole-body resistance exercise, while the burpee is probably the best conditioning exercise out there. Your heart, lungs and mind will all be put to the test.”
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Joe Warner is a highly experienced journalist and editor who began working in fitness media in 2008. He has featured on the cover of Men’s Fitness UK twice and has co-authored Amazon best-sellers including 12-Week Body Plan. He was the editor of Men’s Fitness UK magazine between 2016 and 2019, when that title shared a website with Coach.